Tuesday, May 30, 2006
I very nearly didn't make it to the office this morning - I woke up last night suddenly nauseous, thought I was getting food poisoning but didn't, and took antacids and fell asleep. (All I had for dinner was Bombay potato curry with a couple of thin rotis.)
Ugh. So I drank milk with a cereal bar for breakfast and was completely hollow inside by lunchtime. I went to this stupid vegetarian Thai restaurant which served 3 types of chicken curry.
So anyway, the morning was quiet and I stuck new phone number stickers on 250 brochures; I know this because I did the whole box. On Friday the secretary had told me I could do that if I ran out of things to do, and I said, "I bet I won't need to." How wrong I was.
After lunch, I spent two hours with nothing to do so I practiced mail merging and dared to check my email, once. Typically, an hour before I had to leave it got busy. So again I stayed an extra half hour and still wasn't done. I would have stayed till 6, but I was contracted for 9 to 5 so half-five is a good compromise.
So basically, I've been paid 7.5 hours for doing 3 hours of work!
I called my agent and told her I was doing secretarial, not audiotyping, and she was as shocked as I was on Friday. HR had asked for one thing and needed another. She said if I had problems to let her know, but I never give up a challenge once accepted.
I like the people at this office. I would even consider taking a job there if they offered. Imagine! In corporate property. They're so laid back and easy going. Every time I get something wrong and apologise, they don't even let me get the words out. But at least by now they know I'm not really a secretary so they don't mind talking me through a few procedures. It's funny, a lot of it is common sense, but it's not easy because knowing how you'd do it versus how other people do it is what confounds me.
So there. A day in the life of this slightly-working girl :)
Saturday, May 27, 2006
3) Dinner at the Arts Club
4) My Jobette
I have sort of lost my fire on the Art post, though, because it is based on a comment I made on Matt's blog last week. I can do it, though.
Metropolis is going to be my custom slide show on the film.
Dinner at the Arts Club on Thursday:
Opera evening, courtesy of the Royal Opera House. An American mezzo-soprano accompanied by a pianist sang various arias. I was charmed by the pause taken between two pieces while we waited for the grandfather clock to finish chiming 8.
The best bit was Mozart at the end, from Il re pastore. The sound of Mozart always fills my heart.
We "adjourned to the dining room" for a two course meal, with wine.
First we had a pave' of salmon on a bed of creamed dill potato in hollandaise sauce with asparagus spears.
Finally we had a summer berry soup with clotted cream and puff pastry sticks. They were the sweetest strawberries, blueberries and raspberries I've had here, so they were definitely not English. In their sauce, they even tasted slightly rosy.
They always serve espresso after dinner. It's not the best thing to drink at 10pm...maybe next time I will pass.
So, on to the Jobette:
I turned up on Friday morning to this fantastic office full of glass and brushed steel and beechwood. The office spaces are open plan. They are all glass-faced towards the central internal courtyard, which is open through all floors to the glass roof. Does this make sense? Even the lifts are glass, and security needs to swipe their pass before sending me up. The courtyard itself has a nice rockery and waterfall.
Wow. I like it, but I felt out of place. I think I have become too used to hanging about in listed buildings with plush carpets, winding staircases and wood panelling...
It even extended to the bathrooms. The best office bathroom I have ever used. Each cubicle was a self-contained bathroom. All ergonomic. The sink was brushed steel on a glass counter. The toilet was also steel with a beechwood seat. Bits of panel were also beech!
Look, I have just done a toilet review.
Plus every floor has a little kitchen area with seating, stocked with all sorts of teas in a rack, juices, soups packets, a water spout, hot water machine, chocolate and coffee machine.
Anyway, I was picked up at reception by the girl I cover for next week. She showed me around, and with audiotyping in my mind, suddenly I find she is giving me ever so much information...and it finally dawned on me that she is a real secretary. Talk about throwing me in the deep end.
All of my rusty old mail merge skills learned in the 90s were pushed to their absolute ancient limit. So that's where I got the most practice.
The computers are those tiny Dell machines that slot under the desk.
I will also have to answer a phone and push buttons to transfer calls. Here I am a total newbie, and receiving calls from strangers to transfer to many people who are strangers, is liable to get me into a flap. The most I've done in the past is take messages for ONE surpervisor, nothing more.
The guys on the floor are very friendly, something I haven't yet seen in my temp jobs. By the time I get the hang of it, she will be back from her holiday. I will learn a lot about corporate property methinks.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Meantime, A Spot of Good News:
I have been booked for a week to do some audiotyping for a property company!
Yes, just the day after I was reduced to shedding tears on my keyboard in frustration - and a few minutes after receiving a rejection from the Christie's internship - I received the call.
The agent who had sent me to the law firm for audiotyping a couple of weeks ago was so pleased at my report, she thought of me first when this request came in!
Even at interview, I told her I hadn't done professional audiotyping before, only bits and bobs for myself (mostly transcribing comedy scripts and songs), but she told me I seemed so smart she knew I could do it. So hey, if I could handle all those weird legal terms, this property one will be a doddle.
And it's in Mayfair...they always send me there, but that's nothing to complain about ;)
I am all a-quiver at the thought of earning a chunk of money!
Hari Mata Hari represented Bosnia & Herzegovina at Eurovision in Athens last week. Here is their performance of Lejla:
Or the official music video, which you can see here:
Lejla comes from the Arabic, meaning a dark night on which your fate or destiny will be determined. (Referring in this case to the definite win Mata Hari looked to have on the night!)
But I have a theory on some of the imagery in the music video. There is an old lady spinning wool and weaving in the middle - also a recurring motif is the floating golden thread.
I think it is an allusion to the Greek Fates who controlled Destiny, called the Moirae:
1) Clotho spins the thread of life with her distaff
2) Lachesis measures the thread of life with her rod
3) Atropos cuts the thread of life with her shears
Here is the English translation:
Wind rolls down the meadow,
Pain follows me like a shadow,
Do you still long for me,
Where have you gone, oh, sorrow.
Rosemary in your hair,
And a flower by the fountain,
How could you ever love another.
My dove, lovely dove,
Not a song, bring her my tears.
When they ask for your hand,
My love, I won't be there,
Sorrow is easy to forgive.
But love is not forgiven, ever.
How could you ever love another.
My dove, lovely dove,
Not a song, bring her my tears.
Now I go, for I have loved,
The one who could never be mine.
My dove, lovely dove,
Not a song, bring her my tears.
Now I go, for I have loved,
The one who could never be mine.
Why did I love you,
Sunday, May 21, 2006
But here is something you've never seen the likes of before:
We were in a plane, and it was going down (yes, my second plane crash dream in 6 months). Bill Cosby opened the emergency hatch at the back, and another guy standing nearby shouted at him to shut it because we were in space!
We were - there was no oxygen outside but nothing was floating inside and nothing was sucked into the vacuum. t the realisation, everyone held their breath, not wanting to use up the precious air supply.
Also, I spent a few seconds looking at Bill expecting him to break into a comedy routine, but of course he didn't, and he closed the hatch.
I got up and shouted, "Release the oxygen masks!"
I happened to be a young boy with new superhero powers, the activation of which involved putting on a white mitt (looking suspiciously like my facewashing mitt) containing some magical metal element, a knee pad, and something wrapped around my shoulder.
I went into the back to put on my costume, and when I emerged, the passengers were reaching for the dangling oxygen masks, whilst being drenched with water from the sprinklers.
Suddenly I was in London, as myself once more. I had just left some sort of study session with four other people at a professor's house in Islington. However, I found myself in Hackney near a river (there isn't one in real life) and was trying to get back to a recognisable part of Islington which had similar terraces but no river. Going down a street which I had seen in a dream before, I came across my classmates again near a crowded bus-stop.
Meantime the sun was going down, but we found ourselves standing outside a shop on the High Street by nightfall. I looked up and saw that the next floor up was a bookshop with a green sign called "Hysbons". I exclaimed, "I know this shop, I had to come here to buy some books for my art history course!" (There is none such, by the way.)
Suddenly we found ourselves inside the entryway and a classmate came in behind us bearing cups of coffee and saying, "Here we are!"
To get into the "bookshop" we had to climb up some wooden steps and boxes, and hoist ourselves through a door in the ceiling.
The proprietors were Chinese and as we came in they asked us what flavour ice creams we wanted.
I looked at the clock on the wall and it was all topsy-turvy: where the 1 and 2 are there were a 6 and 7. Apparently 6 and 7 signified it was as late as 1 or 2 am for us. The Chinese lady told us she had our rooms ready for the night, and she headed towards the back of the "shop", expecting us to follow.
Note, I hadn't seen a single book here. In the back of my mind I had inklings of being kidnapped and sold into slavery. Horrified, I just wanted to get home and had no plans of sleeping anywhere other than my own bed!
I had my rabbit Lulu back. We were happy to be together once more. She was nestled in my arms and I was kissing her cheeks, scratching her ears, and whispering loving things. In a burst of bunny love, she reached up and planting her paw on my collarbone, she kissed my chin, my nose, and my eyelids just as she used to.
Here ended the dream.
I woke up feeling quite surprised.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
It was always there, only cached, a word I like because cache' means "hidden" in French.
So now you really do have to go there.
And now, on to the Eurovision:
In the past I have voted for Bosnia & Herzegovina because I like their authenticity. I thought the Greeks would have liked the number by Hari Mata Hari because it resembles their love songs too, with a man singing with all his heart.
The line "And now I go because I have loved the one who could never be mine." brought me close to tears.
Despite my bias, I do not choose Greece, even though I've been listening to Anna Vissi for years. She is singing in the western style. Pah! But Terry Wogan said it was the first time he heard the audience singing along. Impressive, that is.
It must be slightly discomposing (oh, haha) for veteran artists like Anna and Mata Hari to compete in such an amateur competition full of youngsters who sing out of tune, but it seems there are more and more of them these days. A far cry from the day when Nicole sang Ein Bisschen Frieden for Germany in 1982. (I owned that single, it was on a 78 rpm record, who remembers those?!?!?)
I bet loads of Greeks were jealous of Croatia's folksy ni nana nai nai number and line dance, showing just how closely related the Balkans really are. (I swear, I already own and can sing a Greek ni na nai nai nai wedding song!)
I liked Ukraine too, with the Cossacks.
OK, Olivia, shut up...I like authentic music and that's that. It seems to colour the way I watch Eurovision.
So, shame on me for not yet having step foot in the land of my ancestors!
My eyes are full of the promo videos shown between songs, and even Terry Wogan couldn't find much to criticise. I remember last year he was so acid I hated him.
But this year he talked about the new Greek confidence since the Olympics, winning the World Cup and Eurovision last year. 2005 was the year of the Greeks.
On the other hand, Finland's Klingon-KISS lookalikes were out of place and I used their slot to wash the dishes and make my tea.
Israel with a black gospel band, who knew.
Germany with an Aussie singing country in a group called Texas something or other?
Iceland's display was different as always. Look out, Bjork!
The halftime show was great, those Greeks really know how to put on a show, I mean - remember the Olympics?
Friday, May 19, 2006
Monday, May 15, 2006
And another still to have 4 Christian names: Mary Rosemary Marie-Gabrielle, in which grouping I detect a slight redundancy. Must have taken years to memorise.
Then the poor thing, the daughter of Archibald Ralph Montagu-Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie, 3rd Earl of Wharncliffe and Lady Maud Lillian Elfreda Mary Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, went and married a looowly baronet.
In Wales..Llannelli, to be precise.
I can almost guarantee that I will not be Googled for this information.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Friday night, met a load of fellow 20six bloggers at a pub in Soho. Nice to see familiar faces and meet some new ones.
There's a funny story over there about nice teeth.
Saturday seems to be my newly allotted Headache Day. Once again, responding to changing pressure systems, something I thought I'd left behind in Houston.
This evening, I went to Yauatcha again: Miss S asked me to take her. She likes the dim sum but not the dessert. (Sketch is better, she says.)
They are still out of orchid tea :'(
She ordered my fave, the Shanghai Lily gateau but didn't like it, so I was only too willing to swap. Something about eating alcohol in food doesn't appeal to her, yet the Gewurtztraminer wine in the sponge is part of what I find so exciting about it.
Do I need to tell you about the Shanghai Lily again? I order it every time I go there.
Whipped cream and sponge in a white chocolate shell, with a divine centre of wine-soaked lychee; all sprayed pink and topped with rose jam and a red petal. Just precious.
Keep your eyes peeled.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Both escalators were going up and the handful of us leaving SJW had to walk down all the stairs.
I went to another agency interview today, all way over on the Strand.
Test results: I still type at 58 words per minute with a 1% error rate, and I'm ace on PowerPoint (95th percentile company-wide) - and I haven't even used it in a few years.
Let's see what they come up with for me.
Afterwards, I walked up through Trafalgar Square past the National Gallery. I was so tempted to go in and see the "Bellini in Asia" exhibition, but with my portfolio and boot heels I wasn't comfortable enough.
I dawdled up to Piccadilly, planning to take the Tube at Green Park, and discovered an interesting stall at the Trocadero where I had a surprise created for someone who shall remain unnamed.
When I got to Fortnum & Mason, I just had to go in for some Orange Pekoe Ceylon tea, which is the best ever. And then it was off back home for this girl. Had I worn flatter shoes, I would have walked all the way to Bond Street.
It is 9.30 pm and I am STILL in a T-shirt and feeling great. I think summer is here!
Know what irritates me? Doctors, faced with a patient exhibiting rare symptoms, who exclaim: But this condition only happens once in every 300,000 people!
Yea, well there are a lot of people in the world. This could be one of the ones.
In the Tube the other day, I stepped into the carriage and noticed an adjoining door swinging open. Me - juggling my bags - pushed it to and engaged the handle - no catch. I leaned against it and pushed - still no catch. I gave up before we started moving, and sat next to a guy on a PS2. The young lady beside him sitting closest to the door got up and managed to close it. I looked up and gave her a grin.
She sat down as we pulled away from the platform, leaned over and said, "I ate my spinach for breakfast!" I guffawed and replied, "And I obviously didn't!"
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
My Dad trained me up to be a bit handy with a toolset and other random utensils. So, armed with a Philips screwdriver, sharp surgical tweezers, and some soft brushes, I attacked the machine.
Gosh, the amount of chalky dust that floated out of the fan - and I pulled out an impressive plug of fluff (offending article?). There was lots more from the keyboard. Three years' worth.
Also amazing: the number of screws holding these things together.
Status: Fan sounds quiet, laptop running well.
And...one of them was in the USA...worth a shot...am I giving up on London? Maybe...
Oh, and a call from a recruiter this morning regarding temp jobs in media/cosmetics/fashion, etc.
Didn't catch it all, but I am going in tomorrow for an interview.
Why do recruiters talksofastonthephone???
I feel left behind, clutching at the ends of their words, asking them to repeat please....
Monday, May 08, 2006
Last week I was slightly miffed to discover that I am a trend setter.
1A) Last year I bought loads of long silk scarves to hold down my unruly growing curls (once again chopped off as a prospective beloved is no longer asking me to grow it).
1B) There are headscarves on all the mannequins, and thick headbands are rampant on the racks.
2A) Last year I started tying my long scarves around my wrappy cardigans without buttons, and I love creating Empire waists with them.
2B) I refer you again to the mannequins this summer.
Don't forget to read about my exciting day out yesterday!
Sunday, May 07, 2006
I shall remedy that situation forthwith.
If you want to know what I did at work on Friday, go here to my 20six blog. (Opens new window.) Yesterday it rained. I had a headache and stayed home to do laundry. Which was just as well, as my drive was postponed to today.
What drive?, I hear you ask.
The long-promised one - with the former-Delightful - in his sporty little pocket rocket. The top was down, the sun was mostly out, and Coldplay was in the CD player. I was happyyyyy.
Him: We're going for lunch!
Me: Oh goodie! Where?
Him: It's a surprise.
He gave it some welly, we went very fast (I'm forbidden to tell you how fast), passed lots of fields, and ended up in St Alban's. I like Hertfordshire. It felt so uplifting to be outside the city.
You have to escape the dusty arms of the city, and get out into the country on Sunday drives don't you? Getting whiffs of pollen-filled fields and horse shit, and panoramic views from the tops of hills.
We ate at a minimalistic bistro. I wasn't even that hungry, but I was under orders to finish everything in my plate or else he'd run off with my purse and let me find my own way home. *sigh*
We had a shared starter of granary bread slices with dipping bowls of pesto, tzatziki, and olive oil and balsamic vinegar; fresh mozzarella, grilled peppers, sundried tomatoes, olives, salami, rocket wrapped in prosciutto. (Pretty much what I had for dinner last night.)
That would have been enough lunch for me but I was still under orders.
So, f-D had a burger and fries, and I had a croque-monsieur with side salad. Untraditionally, it was in a panini, including the bechamel sauce...and it was the first time I've eaten mushrooms in a Croque-M.
I undid my button and soldiered on through nearly two of the 3 "sandwiches" and most of the side salad, until I could chew no more and then I was saved by the waiter, under disapproving glares from f-D.
No matter how much I eat, I protest that I cannot gain weight at the top as most people want me to! I get it all on the thighs and bum, which I don't mind so much, but I now have a little tummy because I stopped yoga. Right now all my jeans are tight and the next size up is way too big!
What's a girl to do?
[Rant over. ]
f-D only passed his driving test last October or so, but he is a very aware, conscientious and progressive driver. And despite the cruel and unusual punishment at the table, I had a wonderful day in excellent company, as always.
When I first planned this blog, it was going to go like this:
"We went out in a sporty car, very fast, with the top down, and had lunch all the way out in St Albans."
But when I sit down to write, it never works that way...if I did that, it wouldn't be a story, now would it?
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
This is what I wrote yesterday:
I am not a happy girl right now. I got turned down for something I think I'd enjoy, which
you can read about here. It will open in a new window.
[Edit: This morning I called for a CV analysis. A few minor changes to make, but if I really want help I'd have to pay them to write it professionally for me. ]
I've been promising Steli I'd do a post on Hieronymus Bosch, the Flemish Gothic surrealist. It started because I said something about Herr Bosch being the Dali of the middle ages, somewhere on his blog.
Then I think it was a sign that last night I stayed up till 3am watching the documentary on Bosch that I had missed twice in as many weeks.
So here it is. And bye bye Google.
Bosch's given name was Jeroen van Aken, meaning the family originated in Aachen. The van Akens were all successful painters with a thriving workshop in 's-Hertogenbosch (in southern Holland today). He was born in about 1450 and died in 1516, and is thought to be the weirdest artist in the history of European art.
When he became a successful and respected painter, he took the name of Bosch, to identify where he lived.
He married the daughter of a rich burgher (I think?) but whoever she was, moved him from the sphere of craftsmen into the realm of high society. He lived in a great townhouse in the best square in 's Hertogenbosch.
Bosch did what had never been done before by moving marginalia into the centre of the picture. In reference to illuminated manuscripts, marginalia are the grotesque images and scenes in the margins of - in this instance - prayer books. Almost as if church goers were allowed to be distracted in the middle of devotions. Another source were the grotesque figures carved into the choir and painted on the columns - and there are a lot of these at the cathedral in 's Hertogenbosch.
(I can't find a decent pic of any.)
He painted what no human eye had seen before; he turned reality on its head. In his obsession with demons, machines, giant insects and unnatural human-monster hybrids, he materialised the fears and superstitions of medieval society. Bizarre.
He celebrated human weakness, frailty, sinfulness, wickedness. He stressed punishment and damnation. Not for him any nobility or redemption.
Some say his obsession with hell originated in the devastating fire which destroyed part of his hometown, and which he witnessed as an impressionable boy.
One of his most avid collectors was Philip II of Spain, who kept Bosch's works closest to him, of all his collection. They are still to be found in the Quirinal, and also a rich collection is housed in the Prado in Madrid.
Bosch was a contemporary of Leonardo, and one could not find two men at more polar opposites of artistic ideology.
(Ooh did you like my phrase?)
Yet, as surreal as his work seems, it has a sort of weird reality and never really broke the rules of nature as Dali's visions did.
Two of his most famous works are today in the Quirinal and the Prado:
A giant detailed full-screen treat:
The Garden of Earthly Delights triptych
consisting of three panels: Garden of Eden (l), The World Before the Flood (c), Hell (r).
It was a challenge choosing which odd detail to show you, but here is one from the Hell panel:
The Tree Man is a sort of Adam. He looks directly across the central panel and his gaze connects with Eve's in the Garden of Eden.
The odd tabletop Seven Deadly Sins. The inscription in the "pupil of the eye" reads: Cave cave deus vedit (Beware beware God sees)
(I can't read the other inscriptions!)